Gun violence in Edmonton, expert believes pandemic is contributing – Edmonton |

As of mid-2022, the number of shootings in Edmonton is already up by 14 compared to the same period last year.

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In some of the recent shootings, bullets flew very close to innocent bystanders.

A drive-by shooting Monday night in north Edmonton ended just on the other side of a fence from a home.

On Canada Day, an innocent family from the Hazeldean neighborhood found bullets in their home after an early morning shooting.

According to Edmonton police, of the 12 reported shootings in the city in May, nine may have injured innocent bystanders.

“More and more firearms are being used in criminal activities. And every time that happens, it increases the risk of bystanders being harmed,” Doug King, a professor of justice studies at Mount Royal University, told Global News.

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King explained that during the pandemic, substance abuse increased as people struggled with isolation and mental health issues.

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The rise in substance abuse then fueled the drug trade and gang activity that King says goes hand in hand with gun violence.

“A lot of people will focus on, we have to address the social causation of these kinds of things like substance use disorder, mental health issues and those kinds of things. I agree with that,” she said.

“But we also have to put a Band-Aid on what’s going on right now. And that’s good old-fashioned law enforcement, doing great investigations, arresting people and convicting people.”

Edmonton is trying to do both. On Monday, the city council advanced plans for a Healthy Streets Operations Center in Chinatown.

You would see social services, law enforcement officers, and firefighters all operating under one roof in the community.

But the council also heard that EPS has already stepped up enforcement and cannot do much more.

“We’re running drills all the time to try to use our resources in the most effective and efficient way, and right now we’re struggling to do that,” Deputy Chief Darren Derko told the council.

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King believes it’s a clear signal that both municipal and provincial governments need to step up with more funding for both police and social agencies.

“If we can start to do that, along with, let’s address the criminal elements that prey on these people, then we can probably make a dent in the long run.”

In March, Edmonton police released several videos of shootings in the city.

At the time, they said that brazenness was unacceptable and that those responsible should be held accountable for endangering the public.

“The risks to the average person are pretty low,” King explained.

“But it also means that we also have to be more attentive as citizens to what is happening around us.”

According to Edmonton police, 11 of the shootings in May appeared to be targeted.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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